This is the final Stephen Biro book cover artwork.

The picture above is the final book cover illustration I created last week for movie-maker Stephen Biro’s upcoming horror novel Hellucination. (And, yes, I am finally getting work finished and hope to get back to my schedule this week — thankfully most of my customers are patient people.)

This series of pictures below shows the weird progression made toward the final book cover artwork. The vast difference between the illustration above and the steps below resulted because I was working toward the wrong target. That is, while Stephen told me the right title of the picture he wanted to use as the starting place for the final book cover illustration, I thought he meant a different piece of artwork I’d done.

So I started with a painting from a picture he’d sent:

A painting of Biro for the book cover illustration.

Good enough start. But from there, I headed in the wrong direction. My first step was “splintering” the picture in several ways:

The splintered version of the book cover painting


Another variation of the Stephen Biro book cover illustration.


4th Stephen Biro book cover illustration from the original painting.

I then sent Biro pictures for consideration — all very unlike the book cover illustration he had in mind. Fortunately for me, Biro is a patient man (and perhaps used to dealing with the criminally insane, judging from the movies he makes). He called time and again, very patiently explaining what to change. And I kept wondering why in the world he wanted something totally different from what the original had (I thought) looked like.

Finally I realized the mix-up, explained what had happened (giving him a good laugh), and started over. Knowing where I was headed made it possible to finally deliver the cover artwork Biro wanted (memo to self).

A few changes in style and layout and he had the monstrous face wanted for his book cover.

By way of peace offering, I gave Stephen the extra — and totally unrelated — versions I’d created (he’s currently using one on his FaceBook page), so hopefully his patience with an artist that was clueless about what was needed for the book cover illustration paid off for him.

Me? I learned an important lesson about not spinning my wheels before I know what direction I was headed.

Oh… And sorry about the numbers thing in the title (I hate that technique) but I’m told it helps positioning with search engines. So ever mindful of bringing more book cover illustration work my way — with most new customers coming to me via my web site — I’ve succumbed to the number-in-the-title temptation of many bloggers. Hopefully a few more people wanting book cover illustrations will be heading my way now.

When not busily painting a book cover illustration unlike what his client wants, Duncan Long works to create the book cover artwork his clients do want. More of his book illustrations can be viewed at Duncan’s Book Cover Artwork Portfolio